Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (March 19, 1890 – 1960) was born in Rhode Island, to parents of mixed Native American and African American ancestry; her father was Narragansett.
In 1914, at the age of 24, Prophet enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. While at RISD she studied painting and drawing, especially portraiture. Prophet married Francis Ford, who had briefly attended Brown University, in 1915. They later divorced and had no children.
After graduating from RISD in 1918, Prophet tried to make a living as a portrait painter, but times were hard in Rhode Island at the end of World War I. To compound Prophet’s economic problems, there was racial segregation in relatively liberal Providence (which had integrated its public schools in the 1860s); theaters and restaurants had whites-only sections. Prophet is said to have told the poet Countee Cullen that she once had a sculpture accepted to a show in Providence on the condition she not attend the opening, so she withdrew the piece.
In 1922 Prophet moved to Paris, a haven for American artists and musicians of color. While there, she developed her signature style: a realistic portrait head carved in either wood or marble, often presented as emerging from the uncarved block. Prophet returned to the United States in 1932 and moved to Georgia, where she taught at Spellman College and Atlanta University. Returning North in 1945, Prophet found herself unable to make further headway in her career and was forced to take domestic work in order to make a living.
Pictured: Congolais, cherry, 1931, installed at the new Whitney Museum (courtesy Hyperallergic)
For more images of Prophet’s work: http://portraitsculptors.org/FeatureImg/Prophet/Feature_NancyProphet.html
I plan to see this life-size bronze Jumbo, recently unveiled at Tufts University. If you don’t know the story of the giant circus elephant who was stuffed and on display at Tufts, read on…
Photo and link courtesy WGBH news.
Katrín Sigurdardóttir‘s installation of very small houses at MIT’s List Gallery is a stunning doorway into the world of memory, and an individual’s perception of home. The houses are grouped into two series: Ellefu (“Eleven” in Icelandic) and Unbuilt Residences in Reykjavik 1925–1930. “Eleven” consist of eleven segments of the artist’s childhood home (one of which is shown at top). The models are reconstructed from basswood and plaster, and serve as physical souvenirs as well as signifiers of the particularities of lived experience filtered (faultily, or partially) by memory. Fault lines exist more noticeably in the second series (Unbuilt Residences). These architectural models have been burned, dropped, and otherwise damaged. Their cracks are, in some cases, visibly patched, while in others the shattered walls are left bare and gaping.
At the MIT List Visual Art Center until April 12.
Fifteen years ago, I completed this lifesize bronze child reading books for the Melrose (Mass.) Public Library. Since then, a friend in Melrose occasionally sends photos of the piece in curious situations. I couldn’t resist sharing this one. With about 100 inches of snow still mostly on the ground in the Boston area, kids visiting the library not only dug out the sculpture but put a hat and scarf on it. Nothing deters a dedicated reader!
Thanks to Kelly Paulson and family for keeping me up to date.
British ceramic sculptor Kerry Jameson gave a terrific artist talk at Concord’s Lacoste Gallery today. She explained how randomness–cracks in firing, glaze crawl, and other imperfections that drive potters crazy–has become an important feature of her studio process. Instead of rejecting pieces with firing imperfections, as ceramists are usually expected to do, Jameson dismembers pieces with a hammer and re-assembles them with a special mixture of kaolin and glue. She then uses acrylic paint, fabric, feathers, and found objects to cover the surface. Her pieces seem driven by intense internal narratives, appearing both pensive and peculiar. Most work combines animal heads and human forms; a few are wholly avian.
Jameson just completed a residency at Emmanuel College in Boston. The show at Lacoste is her first in the United States. It’s up until March 15th.
At top: Donkey, ceramic and mixed media
This exhibition (on view from Jan. 31-April 26) is one of three clay exhibitions at Fuller Craft Museum this winter. The other two are: “Continuum of Innovation: Haystack Clay Selects “(February 27 – August 23) and “State of Clay” (March 7 – May 24). All three are organized in conjunction with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference in Providence, RI (March 25 – 28, 2015). The reception for the three exhibitions takes place at Fuller Craft on Saturday, March 28, 2015, 2:00 – 5:00 pm with ceramic artist and educator Wayne Higby speaking at 2:00 pm.
From 1976 – 1984, ten ceramic artists operated out of a dynamic gallery and cooperative workspace in the historic A. H. Davenport building in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Named Clay Dragon Studios, this collaborative became a springboard for creativity and an influential foundation for numerous artists in contemporary ceramics. Now 30 years later, this retrospective exhibition showcases the rich range of mature styles, diverse materials, and new developments of former Clay Dragon Studios members. This exhibition is curated by Ellen Schön, with Judith Motzkin and is dedicated to the memories of Shellie Zimmerman Brooks and Elee Koplow.
Above: Gray Fish, Nancy Train Smith, wood-fired stoneware
The Boston Athenaeum, just off the Common, houses one of American’s great collections of 19th century sculpture. Harriet Hosmer is included in the Athenaeum’s next exhibit, “American Neoclassical Sculpture.” Also on view will be work by Thomas Crawford, who gathered an American sculptors’ colony around him in Rome, where he became Louisa Lander’s teacher and champion. The exhibit begins February 26th (blizzards permitting). See the website for hours and details:
pictured: Will o’ the Wisp, marble, Harriet Hosmer, c.1856
Ceramic sculptor Lisa Clague’s “My Little Darlings” are part of the Fuller Craft Museum’s display of work from the permanent collection, up until July 12.
Made of fired ceramic with an encaustic finish (stains and waxes rather than glaze), Clague’s unsetting figures are inspired by fairy tales and childhood games. Says Clague, “Experimenting with material still excites me…I’m inspired by dreams, delightful fantasies or feverish horrors. Nature, ancient art, antique toys, old dolls that are beyond repair, all feed my imagination.”
Boston sculptor Kitty Wales has had several works in the deCordova sculpture park over the years, and her bronze “Feral Goose” is now a permanent installation along the winding path of smaller work next to the museum building. The lifesize goose, advancing toward the viewer, seemed particularly animated on a late-autumn day. Wales chooses animals as her main subject matter, whether dogs, sharks, or birds of prey.